EDITORIALS | PGSS referendum endorsements

EDITORIAL

PGSS Referendum Endorsements

The voting period for the Fall 2013 PGSS referendum begins today, November 4, but the election period has been marked with a disappointing lack of transparency. At the time of press, the information made publicly available by PGSS has been extremely limited. The exact questions have not yet been made available for students to view on PGSS’ elections page, and although three hustings were held, PGSS has only actively promoted one of the questions through its listserv. This lack of information is an impediment to the informed decision-making of students who wish to evaluate their positions on the questions before the voting period begins, and is a show of disorganization on the part of PGSS.

Question re: McGill Writing Centre – YES, with reservations

The McGill Writing Centre provides an essential service for students, especially those who require assistance with academic writing. Without the $1.50 per semester fee, one-on-one tutoring for graduate students will not be offered. A very similar motion was included in the Winter 2013 PGSS Referendum, but did not pass. The Daily advises its readers to vote “yes” to this fee levy, but with reservations. While The Daily acknowledges the importance of the Writing Centre, it should be funded as a basic, essential service by the University itself, rather than yet another fee that is offloaded to students. Effective writing skills should be part and parcel of the university education we pay tuition to obtain. Nonetheless, The Daily supports a “yes” vote to maintain student access to these necessary services.

Question re: McGill Tribune – YES

The McGill Tribune does not currently collect a fee from graduate students, though it does from undergraduate students. The fee would make the Tribune accountable to graduate students, with a mandated graduate student representative on the Board of Directors. The fee would also make all graduate students members of the Tribune Publications Society. A similar proposal was presented to graduate students last year, but did not pass, due to the impression that the Tribune did not provide adequate coverage of graduate student affairs. Since then, the Tribune has made a significant effort to increase its graduate student coverage.

Student media is essential for both informing students of on-campus events and keeping student politicians and the administration accountable. The Daily urges students to vote “yes” to the non-opt-outable fee of $0.75 per semester, thereby making student media accessible to the entire student population.

Question re: Post-Doctoral Student Services Fee – YES

As it stands, post-doctoral fellows – those who have completed a PhD but who continue academic research at the university – may individually opt to pay the student services fee, but are not required to. Post-doctoral fellows are not clearly classified by the University as students; additionally, they receive stipends rather than salaries for their research, but are taxed by the federal government as employees rather than students. To require all post-doctoral fellows to pay this fee, rather than relying on individual initiative, would unify post-docs as a base of students rather than precariously defined ‘employees,’ thus solidifying their image as an essential part of  the student community.

Making the fee non-opt-outable would provide student services, such as Health Services, Career Planning Service, and Financial and International Services, with the necessary funds to improve and specialize the services available to post-doctoral fellows, and consequently, all post-doctoral fellows would stand to benefit. As such, The Daily advises its readers to vote “yes” on this proposal.

—The McGill Daily Editorial Board


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